Paris Saint-Germain revealed on Saturday that Neymar transfer talks are “more advanced than before” after the Brazilian was dropped for the French champions’ opening Ligue 1 match.
Sporting director Leonardo confirmed to reporters that the Brazilian was near the exit door but that PSG were “not yet ready to give their approval (to the transfer)” ahead of Sunday’s game against Nimes at the Parc des Princes.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said: “Neymar did not complete training and it’s not possible that he plays tomorrow.”
The club are impatient for the transfer saga to reach a conclusion, one way or another.
“It’s important to shape our future for everyone,” Neymar’s fellow Brazilian Leonardo told a press conference.
“If he stays, he plays. If he leaves, he leaves. The quicker (we know) the better.”
Real Madrid or a return to Barcelona are the most likely destinations for the world’s most expensive footballer, with Spanish media on Friday saying that Zinedine Zidane’s side will battle Barca for the 27-year-old’s signature.
Sports newspaper AS claimed Neymar has been offered to Madrid by PSG, who are open to selling if they can either recoup the 222 million euros ($249 million) they spent on him in 2017 or receive half that amount with players included in the deal.
Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo says that he would prefer a move back to Catalonia to play alongside former teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Neymar started the new season by angering the Qatari-backed club when he turned up one week late for training.
🎙️ @TTuchelofficial held a press conference earlier today to preview tomorrow's season opening game 🆚 @nimesolympique:— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 10, 2019
"@KMbappe and @ECavaniOfficial will start... They can evolve together up front." #PSGNO pic.twitter.com/UYoPGjSKzI
The player’s camp maintained he had a prior agreement to stay away but that didn’t wash with his employers who threatened to take “appropriate action”.
Off the pitch, Neymar was informed by a Brazilian judge on Friday that the rape case which has been hanging over the footballer for months had been dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Neymar had vehemently denied allegations he raped a Brazilian woman in a Paris hotel in May.
The forward, whose time in France has been marked by injuries and controversies, has made a series of remarks that strained his relationship further with the club and sparked outrage on social media.
Asked by an online sports channel about his best memory in football, he cited Barcelona’s incredible 2017 Champions League last-16 comeback against PSG when he inspired the Catalans to a 6-1 second-leg victory after a 4-0 first-leg defeat.
Neymar was signed by PSG to bolster their hopes of a maiden Champions League title, but they have instead since lost twice in the last-16 phase – to Real Madrid and Manchester United.
He missed PSG’s last games in both Champions League campaigns through injury and twice courted controversy last season.
Neymar insulted VAR officials on Instagram after the team’s humbling by United and received a three-match ban from UEFA, and then appeared to punch a Rennes fan after PSG’s shock French Cup final defeat.
In total, he has scored 51 goals in 58 games for the capital side, winning two Ligue 1 titles and the 2018 French Cup and French League Cup.
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
Today’s edition features potential signings for Roma, Flamengo and Atalanta.
RUMOUR: Manchester United -> loan -> Roma
Roma have held talks with Manchester United over the prospect of taking outcast Sanchez on loan, the Telegraph reports.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Roma is a solid destination for the Chilean, who began his European career in Italy with Udinese back in 2006. They can offer Champions League football and a league long known for prolonging careers of aging stars. It also gives the 30-year-old a chance to secure more game time as he is likely to spend the bulk of the season on the bench at United.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: It could be seen as a risk to let Sanchez go following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan, leaving United a little short up front. If Sanchez is to leave Old Trafford, then he is more likely to exit in January or at the end of the season.
RUMOUR: Marseille -> free -> Flamengo
Flamengo have opened talks with Mario Balotelli over a move to Brazil, according to the Daily Mail.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: The Italian is a free agent after being released by Marseille, and is believed to be keen on the move to South America after spending his entire career in Europe.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Fiorentina, Parma and Genoa all retain an interest in the 28-year-old, and could be viable options if a deal with the Flamengo doesn’t go through. The only problem for any club remains Balotelli’s £3.6million-a-year wage demands, especially for any team operating on a low wage budget.
RUMOUR: Juventus -> loan -> Atalanta or Cagliari
Atalanta and Cagliari are both interested in a loan move for Juventus defender Luca Pellegrini, Calciomercato reports.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Pellegrini only joined Juventus from Roma earlier this summer, but appears unlikely to receive much game time with the Serie A champions this season. The 20-year-old would prefer to play with a club in the Champions League, with Atalanta the most likely to secure his services on a loan deal.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Maurizio Sarri may want the rising star to be around the first team squad and test him against other high-profile players. If an injury does occur, then the Italian has Pellegrini to call upon.
The Neymar summer transfer saga has just taken another major twist after reports from Spain claim that the Brazilian has opened talks with Real Madrid.
Barcelona‘s pursuit of Neymar has been well documented, as the Catalans seek to bring the 27-year-old back to La Liga after having him swiped from under their noses by PSG two years ago.
However, with talks stalling between the two sides, PSG have apparently made the first move in a potential deal with the powers-that-be at the Bernabeu.
According to Marca, sources say that PSG could even be willing to let Neymar head to Real on a one-year loan deal – with a view to selling him on at a higher price next summer.
This option would not be available for Barcelona, as it is believed that the Paris club have been angered by perceived attempts between the Spanish side and Neymar to stir up unrest and force the Brazilian’s price tag to be lowered.
Madrid president Florentino Perez is understood to have a good relationship with the PSG board, while tensions have been simmering between the French club and Barcelona ever since Neymar’s release clause was activated two years ago.
Neymar would give Real Madrid a bonafide superstar in the same vein as Cristiano Ronaldo – who departed for Juventus a season ago – and would complete an enviable attacking line-up alongside Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr and summer signings Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic.